September 28, 2020

Senator Whitehouse & Rep. Quigley Introduce New Bill to Prepare Power Grids for Clean Energy Future

Advanced Energy Technologies and Grid Efficiency Act of 2020 would help put infrastructure in place to reliably deliver cheap renewable energy

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Congressman Mike Quigley (D-IL-5) today introduced legislation to prepare the nation’s power grids to affordably and reliably deliver clean energy.

The Advanced Energy Technologies and Grid Efficiency Act of 2020 instructs a cross-section of federal and regional agencies to work together to pinpoint gaps in grid services and operator platforms that may hamper the introduction of clean energy sources to the power grid. The legislation authorizes funding to upgrade electricity delivery infrastructure to better accommodate clean energy sources. The bill would also help determine whether federal regulators have the proper authorities to oversee the siting of interregional transmission lines necessary for expanding clean energy.

Many of the provisions of the Advanced Energy Technologies and Grid Efficiency Act of 2020 were included in Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act, which the House of Representatives passed this week.

“While advancements in technology have made clean energy cheaper and more reliable than ever, that energy is only useful if it can actually make it onto the grid,” said Whitehouse. “The vast majority of the electric grid was designed for large power generators. Upgrading our creaky grid infrastructure will lay the foundation for powering homes and businesses in every corner of the country with green, pollution-free energy.”

“If we want our nation to truly be ready for the coming clean energy future, we must begin the critical work of preparing our electric grid,” said Quigley. “This new legislation will establish a new, advanced energy technology research initiative at FERC to bring together a diverse group of stakeholders and industry movers to lay this necessary groundwork.”

Hundreds of billions of dollars in investment is needed to fully modernize the nation’s aging energy grid and make it more resilient to the changing energy mix. Such investments have been shown to have a significant effect on the broader economy. Every dollar invested in the grid creates $2.40 in economic benefits, according to one estimate.

The shift towards clean energy will also require grid operators, utilities, state energy offices, public utility commissions, and federal agencies to update market rules, incentive programs, and coordinating structures to accommodate the transition. The Advanced Energy Technologies and Grid Efficiency Act of 2020 takes steps to accelerate the transition by improving power system modeling and grid operator planning, commissioning studies of grid efficiency, and improving the connectivity of the electricity transmission system.

“Making electricity markets technology neutral, and reducing barriers to innovative advanced energy technologies in those markets, is critical to increasing competition, reducing costs to consumers, and reducing carbon emissions. This bill takes several important concrete steps towards achieving these goals and complements other policies that support the transition to a 100% clean energy system. We thank Senator Whitehouse and Congressman Quigley for their leadership on this issue,” said Jeff Dennis, Managing Director and General Counsel at AEE.

Bruce Ho, senior advocate in the Sustainable FERC Project at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said, “Now more than ever, our nation needs a bulk power system that integrates advanced clean energy technologies to lower costs, improve air quality, save struggling families money, and solve the climate crisis. This bill would help ensure state and federal policymakers, grid operators, and utilities have information and resources they need to achieve these outcomes.”

“The Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources commends Senator Whitehouse and Congressman Quigley for introducing legislation that will support electric grid modernization. The demands on our energy systems are rapidly evolving, particularly as we accelerate the adoption of distributed renewable energy resources to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Grid modernization and power sector transformation are key to achieving a 21st century electric system that can deliver clean, affordable, and reliable energy to our homes and businesses for decades to come,” said Nicholas Ucci, Rhode Island’s State Energy Commissioner.

“National Grid applauds Senator Whitehouse for taking a leading role in supporting the expansion and modernization of the nation’s electric transmission infrastructure, which will be critical to facilitating the clean energy transition,” said Rudy Wynter, President and COO, Wholesale Networks and Capital Delivery for National Grid US.

This legislation is supported by Advanced Energy Economy, Sunrun, National Grid, NRDC, Exelon, and the WATT Coalition. A full summary of the bill is available here.

Press Contact

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921